The Michigan Militia Corps'

Weekly Update
Internet Edition

Volume 5, Issue 14

Week of April 20, 1998

Congress Probes Sales of Satellite Technology to China

WASHINGTON -- Several congressional committees are investigating whether the administration's policy of exporting space satellite technology to China has helped China and other countries to develop and use nuclear missiles.

The inquiries come after recent articles in The New York Times disclosing a Pentagon finding that the reliability of China's nuclear missiles was significantly advanced in 1996 after scientists working for American space satellite companies provided Beijing with expertise on guidance systems. The technology needed to put a commercial satellite in orbit is similar to that which guides a long-range nuclear missile to its target.

"I'm not blaming China," said Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. "We're talking about our own government policy-makers responsible for the transfer of this technology, and this case is a glaring example."

President Clinton, after being lobbied by leading American aerospace executives who were also major campaign donors, made it easier for them to export satellites. But administration officials say they kept strict safeguards in place to protect against the risks inherent in transferring sensitive technology -- equipment or expertise -- that may have military applications.

Cochran is the chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation and Federal Services, which oversees proliferation and export policy. He said the panel would look at the 1996 China case in future hearings.

The case involves scientists from Loral Space & Communications and Hughes Electronics who helped the Chinese figure out what went wrong when a Chinese rocket carrying a Loral satellite exploded.

Both companies have said their employees acted properly.

Loral's president and chief operating officer, Gregory Clark, said at a meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday that Loral's employees "did not divulge any information that was inappropriate," Reuters reported.

A criminal investigation, prompted by the Pentagon study, is examining whether the companies violated laws governing the export of military-related exports, officials said.

The Joint Economic Committee will investigate the satellite case for coming hearings on the economic impact of the transfer to China of sensitive technology, an aide said Wednesday.

A member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has asked the committee to review the Pentagon study and analyze the national security implications, according to an aide.

Ms. Pelosi, a critic of the president's China policy, said she was particularly upset with Clinton's decision in February to approve the export to China of a Loral satellite despite the objections of the Justice Department. She felt the presidential waiver undercut any possible prosecution.

"It is ironic that the president issued this special waiver saying it was in our national interest, at the same time the Chinese were planning to sell weapons-of-mass-destruction technology to Iran, in spite of signing another agreement not to do so in October 1997," Ms. Pelosi said.

There are powerful conflicts in the debate. The end of the cold war is a golden opportunity to sell American technology abroad. The friendlier the buyer, the looser the controls.

But the most coveted U.S. technology can be difficult to control because it has dual uses and the controls are only as good as the weakest link. China has shared some of its missile technology with rogue nations like Iran.

Reviving the Lure of the Evil Weed

By Michael Kelly
Wednesday, April 22, 1998

One day in 2010 or thereabouts, if all goes as current indicators suggest, I will find tucked away in my boy Tom's sock drawer the great contraband of his adolescent life, a pack of cigarettes. And when I go, pack in hand, to confront my son, I will be muttering under my breath: God bless Bill Clinton and Al Gore and John McCain and all the other visionaries of 1998.

It is a small point that seems to have escaped the great thinkers of our statecraft, but teenagers have a certain affinity for bad behavior -- for sin, for danger, for self-destruction, for outrageous acts and everyday rebellions. And an American teenager is blessed in this regard, for history's greatest consumer society offers as wonderful a variety in the fashion of being bad as it does in every other.

There is alcohol, of course, but also marijuana and hashish and heroin and cocaine and LSD; amphetamines and methamphetamines, barbiturates and airplane glue, and animal tranquilizer and Ecstasy. There are the aesthetic means of self-harm: tattooing, body piercing, scarification, anorexia, bulimia. There is the outlaw life: gangs, guns, crimes, prison. In the area of physical activity, there are many means of ensuring that one lives fast, dies young and leaves a beautiful corpse, above all, the James Dean perennial of fast dumb driving. And finally there is that most traditional method of ruining one's young life, the love of someone much more bad than you.

Tom will have the choice of all of these horrifying options, and doubtless more. But thanks to the new Prohibitionists, I have hope he will have no need for any of them. I have hope that he will be able to satisfy his wish to be as bad as he can be not in the fashion of 1998 but of 1908, not in the manner of Snoop Doggy Dogg but of Penrod Schofield. He will instead sneak off in the alley to smoke the evil weed. Because the evil weed will be the greatest evil, and the cheapest, and the most available, and the easiest to master, with the least real short-term risk. The teen dream, fulfilled.

Already, the signs are profoundly promising. Between 1991 and 1997, during which time there was an unprecedented effort in America to both propagandize and legislate against cigarettes, the Centers for Disease Control found that smoking rates among high school students rose by nearly one-third, going from 27.5 percent to 36.4 percent. Among white male high schoolers, the smoking rate climbed to 51.5 percent; among white females, it rose to 40.8 percent. Among black students, who have traditionally smoked much less than their white counterparts, smoking increased by an astounding 80 percent, with the rate rising from 12.6 percent to 22.7 percent.

These figures confused Michael Eriksen, the director of the CDC's Office of Smoking and Health. "There's no way to take a good message out of this from the data," Eriksen recently informed The Washington Post. "There's been incredible rhetoric over the past few years, but very little has actually changed." No, that's not quite scientifically correct. What's correct is that there has been incredible rhetoric over the past few years and a great deal has changed: Across sex, race and class lines, adolescents have chosen to respond to the cigarette's newly enhanced status by smoking more.

Most parents (me too) would, of course, prefer that their children skip the whole teen badness business, including smoking. But I suspect most also, if they are honest about it, would admit that they would much rather their children act out by means of an occasional sneaked cigarette than by taking up drugs or booze or crime or by dropping out of school. For while most forms of adolescent self-destruction are genuinely and immediately threatening -- with the capacity to cripple a young life, or snuff it out entirely -- smoking is not.

It is true that smoking often kills in the long term, and it is true that 90 percent of smokers start as teens. But smoking doesn't end anybody's life at 15 or 18 or 21. And it is also true that two-thirds of teen smokers will not go on to become long-term regular smokers. With tobacco the great taboo, most will be forced to smoke in secret, which means relatively rarely, and they will probably quit the vile habit fairly early in life. Cigarette smoking will not have done them any good, but it won't have killed them, or landed them in jail, or kept them out of college or otherwise ruined their young lives. Which is not a bad deal, from a parent's point of view. So keep it up, bluestockings, and here's a quiet hypocritical hurrah for the new smell of teen spirit that is wafting across the land.

Gun Exports Problem for US

NEW YORK - Despite laws aimed at curbing international weapons trafficking, the Clinton administration has discovered that the United States has almost no control over the flow of guns once they reach Europe, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Thousands of semi-automatic American pistols and rifles sold to European arms dealers in the last few years have ended up in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Algeria and Turkey, the paper reported, citing American and European law enforcement officials they did not identify.

The weapons also found their way to organized crime syndicates, the paper said, and there are indications some U.S. firearms got to Iraq and Iran.

To address the problem, the United States is on the verge of revoking all outstanding licenses for firearms exports to British companies, the paper said.

The United States will present its proposal in May at a summit in Birmingham, England, of leading industrial nations - the so-called Group of 7.

After meetings earlier this year in London of the G-7's subgroup on firearms, the American Embassy there told the White House that the United States "should be concerned that firearms are not remaining in the countries for which they are licensed."

American law requires foreign purchasers of firearms and military equipment to sign a statement that they will not re-export the items without the authorization of the State Department, which issues the export licenses.

Under European Union law, however, a company wishing to re-export goods to another member country does not have to notify the original country, the embassy reported.

The EU sees Washington's restrictions as an infringement on "territorial sovereignty," the paper said.

"We object to anybody putting conditions on U.K. companies," said Steve Williams, an official in Britain's Department of Trade and Industry. He and other British officials said British companies were advised they could ignore the law.

In the last two years, Britain has licensed the export of small arms to several countries to which the State Department has denied such licenses, usually on human rights grounds. These include Indonesia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Zambia and Colombia.

Court Hears Gun Possession Case

WASHINGTON - If a criminal has done his time - and his home state lets him buy a gun - can he get extra time in federal prison for firearms possession?

That was the question put before the Supreme Court Tuesday in the complex case of a Massachusetts felon who got an extra 10 years in federal prison for possessing rifles - even though the state allowed him to have the guns.

With four prior convictions for violent felonies in Massachusetts and California, Caron got an extra 10 years because of a federal law that makes it a crime for a felon to possess a firearm in interstate commerce.

Jonathan Nuechterlein, a lawyer for the federal government, said Caron didn't have the right to own any gun under the federal law, regardless of whether the state allowed him to have a rifle or shotgun.

"He would still be barred under federal law," he said.

Now, who's driving that thing?

WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service won a multimillion-dollar victory today as the Supreme Court resolved a dispute over the federal taxes owed by the nation's property and casualty insurance companies for 1987.

In a unanimous decision, the court upheld the tax agency's method of calculating the insurance companies' tax liability for that key year. Federal appeals courts had split on the issue.

Government lawyers had told the justices that their decision will carry "consequences for taxable income in excess of $1 billion." Tax attorneys said taxable income of $1 billion would result in taxes of about $330 million.

In the Tax Reform Act of 1986, Congress changed the way property and casualty insurance companies calculate their federal tax liability. At issue in the dispute was the interpretation of a one-time forgiveness the law provides because of changes in deductions.

Atlantic Mutual Insurance Co. paid its 1987 taxes based on one interpretation of the disputed statutory language. The IRS, with a differing interpretation, said the insurance company actually had another $1.3 million in income for the year and ordered it to pay an additional $519,987 in taxes.

Atlantic Mutual contested that order in U.S. Tax Court and won. But the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the tax court and ruled that the IRS' interpretation of the law's ambiguous language had to be given considerable deference.

Writing for the nation's highest court today, Justice Antonin Scalia said the 3rd Circuit court was right.

"The interpretation adopted ... seems to us a reasonable accommodation - and one that the statute very likely intended - of the competing interests of fairness, adminstrablility and avoidance of abuse," Scalia said.

Justice Department lawyers had told the court of the high stakes.

"Although the issue ... involves a transitional rule that affects the calculation of taxes ... only for the 1987 tax year ... the identical issue is presented in numerous pending cases," the government lawyers said.

The case is Atlantic Mutual Insurance vs. Commissioner, Internal Revenue Service, 97-147.

Calif. Ban on Sex by Minors Upheld

SAN FRANCISCO - While acknowledging that many teens are sexually active, a state appeals court has ruled that minors do not have a constitutional right to have sex.

The 1st District Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that a state law making it a crime for minors to have sex with each other doesn't violate their right to privacy.

"There are freedoms which adults enjoy which are beyond those afforded minors, primarily because of age and maturity," Justice Ignazio Ruvolo wrote in the 3-0 ruling.

"While they may have the ability to respond to nature's call to exercise the gift of physical love, juveniles may yet be unable to accept the attendant obligations and responsibilities," the court said.

A 16-year-old boy, arrested for having sex with a 14-year-old girl in 1996, had challenged the state's statutory rape law, claiming his constitutional right to privacy had been violated.

The girl was charged with a misdemeanor and the boy was placed on probation.

Lawyers for the boy argued that the right to engage in consensual sexual conduct is part of the fundamental privacy rights of minors as well as adults.

The teen's lawyers also argued that the ruling could discourage other teen-agers from obtaining contraception since they could be inviting criminal investigation.

Moynihan Warns of NATO Expansion

DALLAS - The expansion of NATO to include three Eastern European nations could ultimately lead the United States "into the catastrophe of nuclear war with Russia," warns Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

The New York Democrat said Monday that the addition of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization could be perceived as a threat by Russia, which is suffering from an economic and political leadership crisis.

Moynihan made his comments at the annual luncheon of The Associated Press at the Newspaper Association of America's convention, scheduled to continue through Wednesday.

Moynihan warned that U.S.-Russian relations could disintegrate dangerously if the expansion goes forward.

"If we go ahead, we have to recognize that without having intended it, we may have raised the prospect of nuclear war to the most intense point it has ever reached since the beginning of the nuclear age."

Moynihan and Sen. John Warner, R-Va., have proposed a three-year freeze on additional membership in NATO beyond Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

The full Senate's vote on the expansion, without the amendment, was postponed last month, just weeks after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted overwhelmingly to approve it. A two-thirds vote of the Senate is required to put the extension into force.

NATO was created in 1949 to confront the Soviet Union in Europe and now has 16 member nations. All must approve the expansion. So far, Canada, Denmark and Norway have done so.

Moynihan concluded his speech by criticizing excessive government zeal in keeping information from citizens.

"There are a few secrets you need; most you don't," he said. "If you really would like to know what is going on in the world, read The Associated Press wire."

Newspaper executives attending the AP's annual meeting were told of the "remarkable evolution" that has kept the news cooperative abreast of an ever-changing industry.

"Change is the byword of the news business today, making AP's mission bigger and more complicated every year," said Louis D. Boccardi, president and chief executive officer. "We think ... that AP has been through a remarkable evolution to stay equal to the task."

Boccardi announced the AP will open a new bureau in Shanghai, the first permanent representation there in more than 50 years.

The Shanghai office, to be led by correspondent Joe McDonald and APTV senior producer Francois Touron, is AP's 94th international bureau and joins Chinese bureaus currently in Beijing and Hong Kong.

Also on Monday, Donald E. Newhouse, president of Advance Publications and The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., was re-elected chairman of the AP board of directors, while Boccardi was re-elected AP president and chief executive officer.

Stephen Hamblett, chairman, chief executive officer and publisher of the Providence Journal Co., was elected vice chairman at the board's annual reorganization meeting.

Other AP management officers re-elected to one-year terms were Patrick T. O'Brien, senior vice president and chief financial officer; James M. Donna, vice president and secretary; and vice presidents William E. Ahearn, Vincent J. Alabiso, Claude E. Erbsen, Walter R. Mears, John W. Reid, Wick Temple and James R. Williams.

Daniel Boruch was elected treasurer, and Scott Johnson was re-elected assistant treasurer, along with newly elected Salvatore Focella and Ann Randolph. Other AP management officers re-elected were assistant secretaries Lilo Jedelhauser and Greg Groce.

Election results were announced for the AP's board of directors as well. Four incumbents were re-elected and three new members chosen.

Incumbents re-elected were David E. Easterly, president and COO of Cox Enterprises Inc., representing the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News; Richard J. Harrington, president and CEO of The Thomson Corp., representing The Repository of Canton, Ohio; P. Anthony Ridder, chairman and CEO of Knight Ridder, representing The Miami Herald, and Lissa Walls Vahldiek, vice president and COO of Southern Newspapers, representing The Baytown (Texas) Sun.

New members are Joe Hladky, president and publisher of The Gazette of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; George B. Irish, vice president and general manager for newspapers of Hearst Newspapers, representing the Albany, N.Y., Times Union, and, representing a city of less than 50,000 population, Uzal H. Martz Jr., president and publisher of the Pottsville (Pa.) Republican.

Hladky will fill the unexpired one-year term of Larry Franklin, who resigned from the board upon the sale of Harte-Hanks Newspapers.

The other directors were elected to three-year terms.

In his remarks, Boccardi said that amid furor over scandal coverage in Washington, "we've tried to make the AP report one place where we kept our balance and treated with care sometimes sensational news and frustrating anonymity."

Later, in an AP panel discussion moderated by Boccardi, Washington bureau chief Jon Wolman said it has been an extraordinary time for journalists in the nation's capital.

"The reporters walk around shaking their heads saying they haven't seen anything like that before. And they're doing that every three days," he said.

White House correspondent Terry Hunt told listeners that after the story broke about Monica Lewinsky, the White House became a scene of anxiety, disarray and confusion and quickly adopted a "bunker mentality," with the president making less frequent appearances.

"It was a sea change," Hunt said. "In 17 years I've only seen things change that dramatically once before - when President Reagan was shot."

The panel, titled "A Reporter's Tour of the Day's Headlines," also included chief of Middle East services Earleen Fisher, Moscow bureau chief Barry Renfrew and Indonesia bureau chief Geoff Spencer.

Renfrew told of the turmoil in Russian politics and the pivotal role played by President Boris Yeltsin, whom he described as a man who relishes attention.

"Things are on a knife's edge. Everything is suffering, even life expectancy," Renfrew said. "So much depends on Yeltsin."

Ms. Fisher and Spencer spoke of the difficulties that people in Iraq and Indonesia have in getting basic medications and food in the wake of economic sanctions and economic disaster.

"People are dying on dialysis machines because they can't get drugs," Spencer said.

Ms. Fisher said the economic sanctions against Iraq are not hurting Saddam Hussein as much as the Iraqi people, who are having great difficulty getting necessary medication.

"It's very hard to sort out where your sympathies should lie," she said.

She also said that there are positives from the peace process in the Middle East, even though it is currently stalled.

"I think we should remember the opposite of peace is war," she said.

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